20 November 2009

Usually On the Mark #6: Ian Rankin

The observant will realise that I have once again changed this category/designation slightly.
Previous posts have been labelled , and , but they still didn't quite convey what I wanted to say.

What I had in mind is that these are authors that I will read even if occasionally a title doesn't hit the dizzy heights of excellence. They nearly always have something to offer, and I expect to enjoy them.

So far I have listed Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Donna Leon, Karin Fossum, and Peter Lovesey.

Next on my list is Ian Rankin.

This year Ian has been inducted into the newly created ITV3 Crime Awards Hall of Fame.
Here are just some of his other awards:
  • Dagger Awards Best Novel winner (1997) : Black and Blue
  • Edgar Awards Best Novel nominee (1998) : Black and Blue
  • Edgar Awards Best Novel winner (2004) : Resurrection Men
  • BCA Crime Thriller of the Year Best Novel winner (2007) : The Naming Of The Dead
  • BCA Crime Thriller of the Year Best Novel nominee (2008) : Exit Music
Most crime fiction readers will know of Ian Rankin as the creator of John Rebus. Over a period of 20 years, from 1987-2007, Rankin published 17 Rebus novels, all set in his native Edinburgh.
When Rankin retired Rebus in EXIT MUSIC in 2007 (my rating 5.0), many wondered what Rankin would do next.

First came DOORS OPEN, a stand alone that I rated at 4.6.
Then a new protagonist, Malcolm Fox, appeared in THE COMPLAINTS. My rating 4.7.

As you can see from this listing in my database
  • THE FLOOD (1986) 4.7
  • THE WATCHMAN (1988) 4.6
  • THE NAMING OF THE DEAD (2006) 4.8
my ratings have always been in the range of 4.5 to 5.

My general benchmarks are
    5.0 Excellent
    4.0 Very Good
    3.0 Average
    2.0 Poor
    1.0 Did Not Like
    0 Did Not Finish
So, for me, Rankin's new offerings are still reliably high in my ratings.
One of the things that holds him there, in my view, is that he is not just a crime fiction writer, but nearly always a social, and even political, commentator. He and the other 5 writers I have already listed have much in common. They place their novels in contemporary situations, where events happening at the time, issues the community is concerned about, provide a context for the mystery that is central to the novel.

Other links to check
Two new titles to look for:
  • CRIMESPOTTING, a collection of short stories to which Rankin has contributed.
  • DARK ENTRIES, a graphic novel, where Rankin has collaborated with Werther Dell'Edera.

2 comments:

BooksPlease said...

I've never been disappointed with Ian Rankin's books - even the short stories (and I'm not too keen on short stories).

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I'm glad you mentioned Rankin as a social commentator; I like that very much about his work, too. It's not easy to blend a compelling mystery with that sense of awareness of the social issues, but Rankin does it.

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